A cold storm out of Canada began clearing out of the Southland today but still locked the region in a virtual icebox — a cold spell expected to last through New Year’s day.
The National Weather Service this morning scaled back a number of dire warnings. In the San Gabriel Mountains, a winter storm warning scheduled to be in effect until 9 a.m. was cancelled after all the snowfall left los Angeles County, moving east. It was replaced by a high wind warning, which reflects the expectation of 58-mile-per-hour gusts and was scheduled to last until noon.
A high wind warning issued for the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys was replaced by a less serious wind advisory scheduled to be in force until noon. But it was left in place in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, although the expiration time was set for noon, three hours earlier than originally scheduled.
In Orange County, a wind advisory was scheduled to be in effect until 4 p.m. today.
The cold low-pressure system out of Canada slid into the region late Tuesday.
“The main impact of this storm is damaging winds with gusts of over 60 miles per hour across portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where downed trees and power lines along with power outages will be likely…” said a National Weather Service statement.
Since 10 Tuesday night, the NWS recorded wind gusts of 70 mph in Chilao, 63 mph at Warm Springs, 57 mph at Whitaker Peak, and 55 mph in Sandberg — all four in the San Gabriel Mountains — 62 mph at Newhall Pass, 39 mph in Malibu Canyon and 36 mph at Lake Palmdale.
The weather service warned that the wind event would have a widespread impact not just in the mountains and valleys but also over a wide area of metropolitan Los Angeles. The same was said for the cold, with “several hours of temperatures between 29 and 32 degrees possible” tonight and into New Year’s Day..
“The cold air mass will bring freezing temperatures to much of the region through New Year’s Day Thursday, including the Rose Parade through New Year’s Day Thursday,” warned the NWS statement. Forecasters noted that freezing temperatures can kill pets, livestock, crops and other types of vegetation.
The winds, meanwhile, will blow hard through early this afternoon, then die down abruptly, NWS forecasters said.
Winds of around 15-35 mph gusting to 60 mph were expected in the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys, the Santa Monica Mountains, Santa Catalina Island, L.A. County Beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills.
NWS forecasters warned of potential difficulties for drivers on Interstate 5 through The Grapevine and the Antelope Valley Freeway. The NWS warned of near-whiteout conditions in the San Gabriel mountains, largely because of the wind even though relatively little snowfall was expected.
“When driving, use extra caution. Be prepared for for sudden gusty cross winds and blowing debris.”
Along the Los Angeles-San Bernardino county line, 50 vehicles were stranded uphill and downhill from Baldy Village, San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Ryan Beckers said.
Calls began coming in from stranded motorists around 7 p.m. Tuesday, as drivers found increasing difficulty negotiating the 10 percent grade and tight hairpin bends on the descent from the Baldy ski lifts, he said. The vehicle occupants were finally removed by 4:45 a.m., but the vehicles remained.
The National Weather Service had said the winter storm that hit Southern California overnight would bring snow levels down to 2,000 feet in some areas.